$2.5M grant to fund W&I doctor’s work with pregnant women

PROVIDENCE – A $2.5 million grant will support a Women & Infants Hospital doctor in her work to identify ways to better diagnose glucose metabolism abnormalities in pregnant women.

Dr. Erika Werner was awarded the five-year grant from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases last week.

Partners for the study include Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale University, Northwestern University and Kaiser Permanente.

The study began this month, but recruiting for participants is expected to start next year at a number of Care New England Health System prenatal clinics. Pregnant women involved in the study will be asked to wear small devices to monitor their glucose continuously for several days.

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The grant comes several weeks after last month’s announcement of a $7 million grant awarded to Werner for the investigation of health disparities during pregnancy. In collaboration with Brown University, the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute and RTI International, Werner will research differences in developmental outcomes for children born into advantaged and disadvantaged circumstances.

She plans to recruit 2,000 women, 500 of whom are black or African American, and 500 of whom are Hispanic or Latina, and follow them from the first trimester of pregnancy through their baby’s first year of life. All of the participants will be Rhode Island patients.

The study aims to “better understand how socioeconomic and race/ethnic disparities during pregnancy and in the first year of life affect health-related behaviors, maternal neuroendocrine-immune and metabolic responses during pregnancy and children’s health and development,” Werner said.

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